Constructions of the Type [vN + EGIN]. An Incorporation Hypothesis


  • Arantzazu Martinez Etxarri University of Deusto at San Sebastian


Frequent constructs of the type [vN + EGIN] play a very important role in the grammar of Basque as productive verbal complex forms. In this paper I present a number of [Noun + EGIN] constructs of Basque that derive from transitive predicates. An Incorporation hypothesis is presented to account for these verbs. I consider degrees of Incorporation. I understand that both transitive verbs and locutions of this type have the same structural representation. The crucial difference between them is that the former have a non-bound D. O. NP whereas the NP of the locutions is bound. Evidence for transitivity and incorporation at the various levels is presented, with tests such as insertion, word order change, partitive marking, scrambling and so on. For example:

(i) a. Mikel-ek negar egin du.
         Mike(erg) cry make aux(abs-erg).
         Mike has cried,
    b. Mikel-ek berehala egin du negar.
        Mike(erg) suddenly make aux(abs-erg) cry.
        Mike has suddenly cried.

An Incorporation Theory in the sense of Baker (1988) accounts for the compound form of the verbal locution through Object Incorporation at the lexical level of representation with consequences in the syntax of the language. Incorporation is considered a grammatical phenomenon which is in progress at present and exhibits a certain amount of variation among speakers. In order to account for this process we distinguish the three main levels at which Nl takes place; lexical incorporation, syntactic level and incorporation at the level of the Logical Form. Application of different interacting levels lead us to group a number of incorporated constructions of Basque into two main classes:

Class 1 or hitzegin 'to talk'type; class 2 or negaregin 'to cry'.

I understand that the phenomenon of Incorporation is basically a lexical phenomenon, except in the case of the type negar egin, which requires Incorporation at the level of Logical Form in order to derive the incorporated verbal meaning.

In conclusion, I assert the transitivity of [Noun + EGIN] locutions and I propose that the various degrees of incorporation of certain locutions in Basque, can be explained if we understand that Noun Incorporation falls into an implicational hierarchy in the sense of Mithun(1984) which in turn suggests a path along which Noun Incorporation develops.



How to Cite

Etxarri, A. M. (1995). Constructions of the Type [vN + EGIN]. An Incorporation Hypothesis. Papers from the Annual Meetings of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association (PAMAPLA) ACTES DES COLLOQUES ANNUELS DE L’ASSOCIATION DE LINGUISTIQUE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES (ACAALPA)., 18, 74–90. Retrieved from

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